Aerial Photography and Visualisation for Built Heritage - PhD Portfolio by Kieran Baxter
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Thursday, 24 January 2013

New Year, New Camera, New Directions

Since beginning PhD study a lot of my time has been taken reading and writing, exploring the context and nailing the direction of my research. As inspiring as this work can be, seeking pearls of wisdom from accomplished contemporary and historical practitioners, I'm always keen to get out and about and engage with the actual stuff which my research is orientated around. Apart from the fact that kite flying is a great way to clear the head I really do find that doing photography gets me thinking about the problems (and possible solutions) with representing historical momuments. This is a model which I would like to sustain all the way through my PhD - the practical work inspiring the theory, and the theory in turn feeding back into the practice.

Broughty Ferry Castle, kite aerial photograph taken on New Year's Day 2013.
Beyond this an important part of developing a practice-led research model will be recognizing which questions and answers can only be embodied within the visual work. Many of the issues which I would like to address sit within the realm of experience rather than knowledge and as such the written and practical sides of my work will need to be structured in such a way that both tacit and cognitive considerations can contribute to the research outcome.

In the mean time I've gotten hold of a new camera to test - the lightweight compact system Sony NEX5N. The photo above is from an early outing, taken just after hundreds of nutters climbed back out of the icy Tay after the Broughty Ferry New Year's Day Dook 2013. Broughty Castle is always a rewarding compositional challenge and I like to see the sweep of the beach leading away from the castle, which was built to overlook the narrowing at the mouth of the Tay.

I'm very pleased with the versatility of the camera - not just the range of lens options but also RAW shooting from the kite, faster exposure times and better performance at high ISO for sharp shots in choppy conditions. As well as being a bit more forgiving of human error and poor conditions this leaves a bit more creative control both on site and in post processing. The results of some other recent outings to follow here. In the mean time I'll get back to work - with one eye on the weekend weather forecast...